Boston & New England Wedding Photographer Deborah Zoe

Boston & North Shore Wedding Photographer creating timeless imagery for classic New England weddings with a fine art approach.

Wedding day family portraits

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The Family Formals

Weddings draw people together. Friends, family, loved ones will travel miles if not across oceans to attend weddings. These may be people the couple has not seen in years. It's an incredibly joyous occasion that brings people together and as a photographer, I love being there to document these relationships and mini reunions! As a photographer, that is a big responsibility and one that I do not take lightly! For many photographers, the Family Formals are not their favorite part of the day. But for me, I love witnessing the relationhips the couple has with their family, friends and loved ones. I love watching as Grandpa clings tightly to his darling granddaughter or how the Groom reaches over to give his Mom a kiss. I love these moments and I love capturing them!

Over the years I've noticed that preperation goes a long when it comes to Family Formals. Because I want these images to be happy, joyous, celebratory, I work extensively with the couple BEFORE the wedding day to ensure that there is room for FUN, SPONTENEITY and a relaxed environment. Below are a few tips that I share with every couple in how to help best prepare their family (and each other!) for the Family Portraits!

1. Communiate. Communicating with your loved ones before the wedding day can make a huge difference in the atmosphere surrounding your family formals. First, remember to communicate where your family is to be the day of the wedding. I can't stress this enough, especially if a couple chooses to take their portraits before the ceremony. If you have older relatives, who may be unfamiliar with this, a gentle reminder of when and where they need to be the day of the wedding can eliviate time spent waiting for lost guests. Additionally, communicating the vibe and feeling you want to achieve in your family portraits is vastly important. Let your family know that they can let loose, have some fun, joke around, and just enjoy each other's company! As your photographer it’s my job to help people feel natural, but having the right attitude to start goes a long way in creating fun and memorable family portraits!

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deborah zoe photography family formals0001.JPG

2. Organization. Stress can be a huge factor in how successful the wedding portrait time is. Part of what can make this time stressful is lack of organization. It can be hard trying to rally up 30 plus people for your family portraits when food and drinks are in the apposite direction;). Being organized ahead of time can ensure that you are stress free and that your family knows exactly where to be and when on the wedding day. Two months before the wedding day, I send out a questionnaire to all my couples to go over exactly who they want participating in their family formals. This helps to start the organization process early and gives the couple the tools and information to communicate to their family. Come the wedding day, the Bride and Groom know exactly who will be having their pictures taken and when! We check things off as we go and make any adjustments as needed. The less the Bride & Groom have to think about, the less they have to worry about!

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deborah zoe photography family formals0002.JPG

3. Relax. If you haven't noticed it already, there is a theme going on here, relaxation. People feed off certian energy; If the Bride & Groom are happy and relaxed, then most likely those around them will be also. It’s all in the attitude. Allow me to take care of gathering people together, organizing the groupings and directing people. It’s the Bride & Groom's job to just ENJOY this moment, hug and kiss their families and to just simply take it all in. If you do find that you’re starting to get anxious then, take a deep breath, remember that you love your family and remember the purpose of the day: each other! 

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deborah zoe photography family formals0003.JPG

4. Numbers. For each wedding I alot around 30 minutes in the timeline for Family Formals. Because there has been extensive communication before hand, we alreayd know who will be in what groupings and people know where to be and when. I stirve to make the family portraits time a fun and relaxed environment while being efficient so that everyone can get back to what they really want to do: PARTY! That being said, I always advise couples to be aware of the amount of combinations that they TRULY want. Organizing and gathering people does take time. Allowing people a moment to breath and relax takes time. The more people we have to photograph the more time it will take to do so. As your planning out who you would like photographed on your wedding day, remember to be realistic as to how much time you have and how many people you want in your portraits.

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deborah zoe photography family formals0004.JPG

Below is a basic combination list that I start with all my couples. Of course every family dynamic is different so this list will often change. Couples can add or remove combinations from this list and we work together to create a family portrait list that fits their needs as well as their timeline!

Bride and Mom

Bride and Dad

Bride with Mom and Dad

Bride and Groom with Mom and Dad

Bride and Groom with Mom and Dad (add siblings & significant others, families, grandparents)

Bride with Mom and Dad (add siblings)

Bride and Groom with Grandparents

Bride and Groom with both sets of parents

Bride and Groom with both sides of families

Groom with Mom

Groom with Dad

Groom with Mom and Dad

Groom and Bride with Mom and Dad

Groom and Bride with Mom and Dad (add siblings & significant others, families, grandparents)

Groom with Mom and Dad (add siblings)

Groom and Bride with Grandparents

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deborah zoe photography family formals0005.JPG

As your photographer, family formals are all about documenting family units, the bond that each family shares and preserving family history. Being able to witness as families come together and capturing that that in an image is what I love! My goal is to provide you with images that help you to remember your family for years to come. Maybe you won't see them again for many years or maybe they live right down the street, either way I hope that your family portraits serve as a reminder of just how much love was shared on your wedding day and the people who make your life bright!

If you have any questions about how I organize the Family Formals or would like more detail on what this part of the wedding day looks like, leave a comment below and I'll share my responses today! Happy Wednesday everyone!

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by Deborah Parker